Today we remember two apostles, both martyred in Rome. Simon (Peter) from Galilee, married, chosen by Jesus to be his disciple. He was the brother of Andrew, who introduced him to Jesus. Paul, who replaced Judas Iscariot, was from Tarsus and educated as a Pharisee. He was called the apostle of the Gentiles. Both Peter and Paul played very important roles in the history of the Church. Peter had an experience with Jesus because they worked together for many years until his death. But Paul never had a chance to be with Jesus. It was only after his conversion that he became the strongest and bravest defender of the Risen Jesus.
In the Gospel, Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They answered, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or some other prophets." Jesus was not happy with the answer and asked them directly, "But for you, who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Upon hearing this, Jesus said, "I am going to build my Church upon Peter as upon a rock." Jesus also gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and "whatever you prohibit on earth will also be prohibited in heaven." Lucky Peter! It was his recognition of Jesus as the Son of God that he became such a privileged follower of Jesus.
On the other hand, Paul's conversion was some kind of a flash of lightning that blinded him. Then he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you, Lord?" He asked. "I am Jesus, whom you persecute. But get up and go into the city where you must be told what you must do." Saul was blind for three days and through the help of Ananias, his sight was restored. Paul was baptized and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Strength restored, he started to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. Paul concentrated his work with the Gentiles and soon the number of converts grew.
We celebrate today the greatness of these two apostles, one, the Head of the Church and the other, the faithful defender of Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul were not saints when they answered the call of Jesus; in fact, they were also sinners and they made a lot of mistakes just like us. Peter even denied Jesus Christ to save himself. He abandoned Jesus in his last days. He said that he would give his life for Jesus, but when he was confronted with the reality of life, he cowered. Paul, on the other hand, tortured and persecuted the Christians. But in the end Peter and Paul were humble enough to admit their weaknesses and worked very hard to build a church by converting thousands of people to Christ and shepherding the flock assigned to them by Jesus Christ. Peter became the first Pope and guided the Church to its fruition. Paul, by his dedication to Jesus, continued his work with zeal.
At this moment in our life, how much do we know about Jesus and what he has done and is doing for us? Can we say that we know him well and that we can die for him? Can we work like St. Paul and St. Peter to be able to affect change in the lives of other people? If we can say yes, then let us put all our efforts to be a worthy disciple like Peter and Paul.(DAILY HOMILY)